It took me eight years between noticing I had difficulty hearing and going to my GP.
Everyone has a trigger that makes them seek help and mine was difficulty working. Before going to the GP I worked in Rwanda for three months and found it extremely difficult due to my hearing loss. It's one thing to ask people you know in the office to speak up or to face you, but impossible in an open meeting where a high-ranking government official speaks quietly and with a marked accent. It's even more difficult when trying to listen to a simultaneous translation either through headphones or a whisper into your ear.
Until I got my hearing aids I had no idea how much I couldn’t hear. Suddenly I felt safer because I could hear traffic and footfall. I felt less isolated because I could interact better with family and friends – and I could hear the birds! Having hearing aids gave me the confidence to say when I couldn’t hear and when I needed people to communicate with me in a more thoughtful manner. I no longer felt stupid having to say I hadn’t heard.
I am now retired from full-time work but am fully occupied with voluntary work, where I can use my knowledge and experience. I am an Action on Hearing Loss volunteer and a member of the NICE National Guidelines Hearing Loss Committee. I give patient input, particularly from a hearing loss point of view, to medical researchers. I continue to give advice and support to a small charity working in Africa and am active in my local community. None of this would be possible without my hearing aids. In fact having a hearing loss and hearing aids has opened the doors to new opportunities for me!
I was lucky. I got on well with my hearing aids from the first day. I wear them all the time and I value the difference they make even though they cannot make your hearing perfect. I would encourage anyone who is finding it difficult to adjust to their hearing aids to persevere. There’s lots of help and information on the web and in booklet form. Action on Hearing Loss can help and if you are really struggling go back to your audiologist. Make your hearing aids your friends – it’s well worth it.